MOBILE data costs have been dropping sharply as telecommunications companies scramble to attract smartphone customers using more and more gigabytes.
Most telcos already offer unlimited calls and messages, which has made data the key battleground, and consumers are the winners.
Telco comparison site Whistleout.com.au said even the market giants — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — had “come to the party”.
Getting 40GB-60GB of data each month for less than $60 is not uncommon, and consumers should shop around.
“There’s so many small competitors in the market now and the offer really cheap plans — that’s put pressure on the big telcos to figure out ways to keep up with them,” said Whistleout.com.au publisher Joseph Hanlon.
“Telstra’s value proposition has changed. Their prices haven’t changed as much but they’re packing in the data,” he said. “In days gone by you would never have seen things like that with Telstra.”
12-month contract plans with at least 10GB of data
Bring-your-own-phone plans have given smartphone owners more flexibility in demanding better deals. Mr Hanlon said about half of the buyers using its website were on these SIM-only plans.
However, Telstra and Optus’s best deals were on 12-month contract plans, he said.
“It’s still a really good idea for people to take a look at the smaller players. Twenty dollars these days goes a long way with some providers.”
Telstra consumer executive Kevin Teoh said consumers should not just look for the lowest price or highest level of included data.
“Customers should always ask themselves does the provider offer good coverage where they live, work, commute and holiday,” he said.
“And what speeds will they typically receive?”
Service and support were other factors to consider, Mr Teoh said.
“We know Australians love consuming more and more — and higher quality — content on their smartphones.”
BYO phone plans with at least 10GB data
Another key to getting a good data deal is knowing how much you need. Paying for 50GB a month of data is pointless if you only use 5GB.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network says people can use spend management tools to track their data usage.
Telcos must send you usage alerts when you reach 50, 85 and 100 per cent of your data limit, it says. However, these alerts only need to be sent within 48 hours of hitting the limit, so be careful.
HOW YOUR SMARTPHONE CHEWS DATA
• Sending a tweet or updating Facebook — only a few kilobytes
• Three minutes of music streaming — 3MB
• Web browsing for 30 minutes — 10-20MB
• Sending and receiving 10 emails with attachments — 18MB
• Navigating for 10 minutes on Google Maps — 6MB
• YouTube streaming for five minutes — 37.5MB
• Downloading a standard movie — 1GB-1.5GB
• Downloading a HD movie — 4GB
• Streaming HD content — up to 3GB an hour